Whether you’ve had your vacation rental business five minutes or five years, when you search around for tips and advice on how to best market your property, you’ll be faced with the fact that vacation rental listing descriptions really do change the way guests think about your home.
The description of your short-term rental serves as a business card for all those potential customers who visit your website or listing in search of the perfect vacation rental.
It’s essential to make a good first impression; this will give you the opportunity to immediately establish a relationship of trust with the potential guest and convince them to continue their buyer journey on your listing or website.
Some years ago now, industry specialist Matt Landau conducted an experiment on the well-known free advertising site Craigslist using two different descriptions for the same property. The conclusions he drew remain very much relevant to the market today: modern travelers prefer well-written, creative and informative content when it comes to choosing their vacation rental.
But how can you write a captivating vacation rental description? Here are our top tips for writing vacation rental listing descriptions that will help generate more inquiries on your listing or website.
1. Appeal to your audience
The main task at hand here is to use vocabulary that will convince the right guests to book your place, so before you even begin planning to write your vacation rental descriptions, think carefully about who your target audience is.
Depending on whether your audience is millennials, young families or retired couples, your content will require different language choices.
Start by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about what details would really entice you, and use this to your advantage. Is it the quirky poolside cabana or the child-friendly picnic area in the backyard?
Whoever your audience, remember to always keep the focus on them.
2. Answer their questions before they ask
Think about all of the questions your potential guests may have and include your answers to your description. Some examples of the most common guest questions are:
- Do you have any public transportation near your property? How far is it from the nearest train or subway station or bus stop?
- Do you have any shops near the vicinity to buy any essentials?
- What bed sizes do you have in your rooms? (so they can fairly estimate how many people the place can accommodate)
- Are pets allowed in your property?
- Are they allowed to party? If so, what do they need to keep a note of? (e.g. noise level, condo rules, house rules for parties, etc.)
Try to give clear answers to these questions and remember to be honest! You don’t want to give the guests a surprise that might not align with their plans.
3. Establish your tone
Airbnb tells its users to ‘write how you talk‘ and we couldn’t agree more. Many vacation rental owners make the mistake of thinking that professional means formal when it comes to writing. But think about it: Your website is the first point of contact potential bookers have with your vacation rental, so conveying your personality as a host is a must. It can easily be achieved through the tone of your writing.
Try to write your listing descriptions as though you’re describing your property to a friend – you’ll capture an informal yet excited tone that will draw your reader in. Just be sure to keep it consistent throughout.
4. Make sure your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is actually unique
Everyone knows the vacation rental industry is growing bigger and bigger each week, so the only way to win more bookings is by creating standout content that obliterates any chance of competition. Just kidding! Well, kind of not really…
Your listing descriptions are the best chance you have as a business to show off exactly what makes your property a knockout, so you should focus on what your home boasts that no one else around you has.
We can’t emphasize enough that your unique selling points should be exclusive to your vacation rental, so don’t be afraid to research your competition to familiarize yourself.
There’s no need to rush your decision. Once you’ve worked out what your USPs are, weave the rest of your property description around these aspects. Whether that’s in your introduction or as headers to break up the content. Guests will love that you’ve taken the time to deliberately include certain things, especially when they’re weighing up their own decision themselves.
5. Succeed through storytelling
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s enough to attract guests with a long list of all the amenities your property offers. Instead, aim to allure viewers with a carefully composed story of what their vacation will be like at your home.
Use active verbs and avoid cliché adjectives to provide the reader with the most vivid image of their stay, and pair up your story with some high-quality images.
You can really imagine what it’s like to stay somewhere when the website paints a descriptive picture, and this is exactly what helped Matt Landau double his listing views and triple his inquiry rate.
6. Highlight your amenities, services or unique extras
Go the extra mile to stand out from the competitors in your area by mentioning everything and anything that makes your property unique.
We’ve written a guide on the “45 Must-Have Amenities for Every Vacation Rental Home” but some relatively easy and cheap amenities you can offer are:
- Breakfast and snacks
- Playing cards, board games and books
- Transportation cards to help your guests go around
- iPhone and Android chargers
- If you have a bathtub, you can leave bath bombs or fragrance oils
7. Keep it short and sweet
Experts predicted that by 2016, 73% of Americans would use a mobile device to research their vacation options. Bear this in mind when you’re writing your vacation rental listing descriptions, as this trend is only increasing. It’s best to write in short, succinct sentences that readers can quickly flick through on their mobile devices.
There are many ways you can organize your website’s content into easy-to-digest chunks which will also have a positive effect on your search engine rankings – our expert guide to vacation rental on-page optimization can help with this.
8. Stick to specifics
It’s so easy to get carried away writing about the area as a whole because of course, you love the place! Just remember there’s no need to preach to the converted as your site visitors are already looking for a property in your city or town, so think back to what will set you apart from your competitors.
You might not be the only vacation rental in a few kilometer radii that’s a five-minute walk to the beach or a 10-minute drive to the mountains. But you can be the vacation rental around that knows where to spot wildlife, how great the sunset is from that spot up on the hill that tourists don’t usually know about, or who recommends the best places to eat local cuisine.
Always focus on the specifics – they will be your key to winning over more direct bookings.
9. Don’t forget to include a clear call to action
This is something you don’t usually see on most vacation rental descriptions, even if they can make a huge difference and help turn lookers into bookers.
If a potential guest reads through your description until the end, it may mean that they’re interested in booking it. Here are some examples that you can play with:
- “You won’t find any other place like this.”
- “Our calendar is filling in quite fast so be sure to book right away to guarantee a reservation!”
- “We’d love to host you and your family so I’ll be waiting for an inquiry from you and we can start discussing some more details from there.”
10. Advertising words to avoid
In the same way that there are words that help your vacation rental stand out from the crowd, there are definitely some terms you’ll want to steer clear of. Avoid these marketing words: “TLC”, “cosmetic”, “bargain”, “nice” or “must-see”. If you’d like to keep your description short, you can cut down on mentioning your property’s main stats, like square footage and a number of bedrooms, since those data points are displayed in a different part of your listing, anyway.
To conclude, here’s some expert advice from James Woolley, Director of Totalstay:
“Property listings are all too often hastily put together or treated as a last-minute task. The description of your property however is just as important as the photographs you use.
A well-written listing has the power to help guests visualize a stay at your holiday rental. Spelling mistakes, unimaginative descriptions, overly long listings and over-exaggeration about the features your property offers can all negatively affect your rental marketing efforts.
If hiring a professional copywriter (or, better yet, a dedicated holiday rental manager) is not possible, get someone to proof-read your listings before they are published on your website. This can go a long way in making sure that your listings are free of errors and geared towards your ideal guest.”
Vacation rental descriptions during/after the COVID-19
It’s important to make sure that your descriptions don’t encourage guests to ignore applicable health or travel advisories, have gatherings that violate health restrictions, promises guests that your properties haven’t been exposed to COVID-19, or mentions that your listing is COVID-free. OTAs like Airbnb have updated their content policies and have reported that listings that fail to comply with these guidelines may be removed from their websites.
However, as long as you comply with these policies, there are still some things you can include in your descriptions like:
- Self-check-in / No-contact check-in services
- Cleaning protocols and steps you’re taking to disinfect your property
- Include words like “Clean”, “Safe”, “Enhanced cleaning” or “Sanitized” (but never COVID-free or anything like it)
Vacation rental description examples (PDF)
Since we know how complicated it can be (especially for those less accustomed to writing) to write a description for your vacation rental, we’ve created a downloadable template that includes a list of power words you can use for your descriptions, a list of vacation rental description examples and a template to guide you through the process.
You can download it for free by entering your email below and you will receive it in a few minutes in your inbox!
Have you followed our tips and seen an increase in inquiries? We’d love to hear from you! If you’re still struggling to write your own vacation rental listing descriptions? Why not hire someone else to do it for you. Check out our guide to finding freelance copywriters.